CNN Philippines — The government's Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa project has been suspended for now to accommodate locally stranded persons first, an official of the program said Thursday.
“I decided as a matter of strategy na i-suspend muna ang ating rollouts for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa to give way, unahin natin — kasi this was a very clear instruction from the President — unahin, pauwiin na ang ating mga kababayan na stranded dito sa Maynila," said Marcelino Escalada Jr., executive director of the program, in the regular Laging Handa briefing.
Escalada, who is also general manager of the National Housing Authority, explained that through the Hatid Tulong program, the government helps send locally stranded people home while public transportation remains limited.
“Ito yung mga tao na walang bahay at tsaka walang enough capacity to finance their stay in Metro Manila," he said. These include overseas Filipino workers, construction workers, tourists and students, the official added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier gave concerned government agencies an ultimatum to bring home by the end of May over 24,000 OFWs stranded in quarantine facilities for over a month.
Last week, the COVID-19 national task force said returning OFWs may only stay in the capital region or wherever they landed for a maximum of five days before being sent home.